Good afternoon and welcome to a session of Hearing Loss LIVE!’s Tour Guide to the Hearing World. Join us as we travel through the land of the hearing, where English sounds like a foreign language and people don’t look at you while talking. It’s a lang of mumbling people who don’t move their mouth and others who move it much too fast. We will journey through masks (yes they are still around), dodge communication disasters and create more awareness together. Pick your best seat (never feel guilty about picking your best seat) and enjoy our tour through the land of the Hearies, who don’t speak our language.
Today you have two of us as tour guides, Chelle and Julia! Two for the price of one! Today’s exploration is the restaurant…with hearing aids. Does it sound scary to you? Restaurants are so awful that some hearing aid manufacturers have a dedicated setting called “restaurant”. We’re going to tuck you under our wing so you can observe the process with us. Julia will give us some hearing insight along the way.
We’ll meet you at the local eatery, Stella Grill.
Chelle: Julia and I pulled into the parking lot at just about the same time. I’m a little ahead of her so I wait in the parking lot for her. If the weather isn’t severe, why not wait outside for those last moments of peace?
This is my second trip here, Julia’s first. I’m a reader and that means I’m always looking around for signs and written information. The first time I came in, I did not see a “wait to be seated” sign so my husband and I sat ourselves. Oops! The waiter let us know we were naughty. This time, I know to wait.
Before we sit down, let me confess that I do not use my hearing aids in restaurants. I put my lipreading skills to use instead. I can’t tolerate the extra noise in restaurants. Now and then I try using my hearing aids, turning down the volume in an already personally tweaked hearing program for noisy settings. Again and again, I find myself clenching my teeth and so distracted by noise that I can’t focus on conversation. Glasses clinking. Silverware clattering. Plates crashing. Music. Lots of people talking over the music. Argh! I take my hearing aids out and I’m fine. This is a personal choice.
There are many people within my personal HoH circle of friends that would never go without their hearing aids in social settings. They also have newer hearing aids than I do so they can tweak the programs in their smartphone apps more than my 8 year old hearing aids. To each his/her own! Use what works best for you.
Julia is giving me a little wave. Let’s see what she has to say.
Julia: Hearing partners can help by letting their HoH make the decision about wearing hearing devices or not during outings. Why? Better communication outcomes. If going out to eat is one of your favorite things to do, what communication adaptations can you implement to continue enjoying such events? Work together for solutions. If noise is an issue, why not try going during off hours?
Chelle: Thank you Julia for your support, understanding and the tip. Bravo!
Choose Your Best Table
A little foresight while we’re waiting to be seated. The last time I was here I sat on this side of the restaurant:
It was well lit but so noisy with reverberation my husband had issues hearing. I did fine with lipreading. As we walked out of the restaurant, both my husband and I noticed a huge difference between the rooms. The sound was dampened on this side. I’ll request sitting on this side this time.
*Note: Did you know we lose our sense of direction with hearing loss? These kinds of environments are particularly hard. Let’s plan on talking one at a time. If we raise a hand, we’re able to locate the speaker.
Did you know you can request where to sit? No? This is a part of being proactive with your hearing loss. Take charge! Pick a corner away from the big table of loud people. Corners are always wonderful. Stay away from the kitchen area if possible. Be sure to look for good lighting and that your hearing partner’s face is not backlit. If you’re in a large group, see if you can’t sit in a circle instead of a long rectangle table.
The hostess is ready to lead us to the table. I ask her if we can sit on this side of the restaurant. She stops and points to the table right about where we want to be. Perfect. I’ve never had anyone tell me no.
Look for the specials!
Oh look, there’s the board with the day’s specials written right behind us. I always look for that too because serving staff tends to recite those specials at 100 mph.
Julia and I sit down. I take what I think is my best seat. Can you feel it in your face when hearing is hard? I can. My eyebrows are pulled down and my eyes are feeling squinty. Oh my, her face in the shadows. I ask her to trade me places and she does. Much better!
Pay attention to the menu…
Do you all have your menu? Ah good. I want you to read the fine print for your lunch choice. Does it come with sides? How many? Where are the sides listed? Look at the choices and make your decision before they get there. Why? Because the less questions our serving person asks, the easier it will be on all of us.
*Tip: Be extra proactive and view the menu online before going to the restaurant.
**And a side note: They rarely list the dressings for salads. If you’re feeling adventurous, go ahead and ask. If not, there’s always ranch dressing.
The last time I was here with my husband, the waiter began reciting the sides even though I knew what I wanted, crispy fries. When he got to the house pasta salad, his eyebrows shot up and wiggled around. Ohh, that must be a personal favorite of his. I like trying new things so I decided to go with that in lieu of the crispy fries. That’s a bonus when you’re a “lipreader”. We notice the small nuances. I did not regret my decision to go with his choice side. It came with homemade noodles, yum!
That nice waiter wanders the path but he is not our server this time. We have a young guy and I inform him I use lipreading. He faces me and I place my order. Be proactive! Let people know what you need to communicate.They appreciate knowing what works best.
How many of you think you read lips? I knew it, not many. Guess what, you are lipreading whether you know it or not. If you feel unsure about using the word lipreading, let them know they have to face you so you can hear them. Do they talk too fast? Ask them to slow down a bit, they will if they want that tip.
This month’s special from Hearing Loss LIVE! If you want to learn more about lipreading, join one of our lipreading classes that will be starting in January. We have a two for one special because our hearing partners benefit a great deal from understanding the lipreading process.
While we wait, Julia gets up to take pictures. She too notices a huge difference in the acoustics between the different rooms. We can’t really pick out why except maybe less windows. It’s odd! Have you paid attention to acoustics? Restaurants are often built for the eye and to be easy to clean. Rarely are they made to please the ear. It’s unfortunate. Some restaurants are smart enough to put up acoustic panels and that can help a great deal.
It looks like Julia has another valuable tip for us….
Julia: Have you heard of SoundPrint? It’s a smartphone app that rates noise in different settings. Share your latest restaurant experience on Soundprint and let’s get others in the KNOW. It’s better working together!
Chelle: Let’s help each other be in the know! We can work together noting the noisy restaurants, but remember to bring awareness too. Give them a solution or two.
The food is here! They have such great food here. Before he leaves, the waiter asks if there’s anything else he can get for us. (This is a common question at this point so it’s easy to anticipate, easy to “hear”.) Nope, all is good and we are practically drooling looking at our Reubens. Let’s chow down!
Notes from a HoH:
Don’t be a total hearie who chews their food and talks at the same time. We can’t just listen, we are read lips too. It makes it very hard to focus on what you’re saying when we are watching food jump around in your mouth. Instead of “listening”, we are now wondering if food is going to fall out of your mouth or come flying out at us. If you have just taken a big bite of your Reuben, take a moment to chew it up, swallow then take a sip of water to wash it all down. We can wait.
Lunch was a success! We had some thoughtful conversation our waiter was patient and accommodating. Let’s give him a nice tip. I like it here so I will be back. Hopefully both waiters will remember me and be just as accommodating.
Thank you for joining us. We hope we gave you a few good tips to you and you will venture out.
Happy Holidays to all!
If you like this blog, take a look at our blog on being Proactive.
Did you like the tour? Check our Grocery Store Tour.
We keep as much of content free as we can. We want everyone to access to communication. If you liked what we wrote, Buy Us a Coffee.